Black Ladder Back Chairs

Vintage Ladder Back Chairs painted in Graphite Chalk Paint

I spotted these chairs for sale on Facebook Marketplace, contacted the seller, and 30 minutes later the chairs were mine! How easy was that? There was a sneak peek of the chairs in my previous post as I used them for staging with my vintage kitchen table. Although the table and chairs are not a set, it's a good example of how paint can coordinate different styles of furniture to work together.

The chairs are sturdy, but the finish was worn and they were fairly dirty. The seats have some wear to them, but are otherwise in good shape. Someone once asked why all my "before" pictures are taken outdoors. The reason is simply because I don't bring the furniture inside my house until it's been thoroughly cleaned, and if necessary, sanitized.  I usually snap the before photos at this point as a matter of habit, otherwise once I get started on a project I tend to forget to take the "before" photo. A large part of my job is cleaning the furniture first. It's not my favorite part of the job, but it's a necessary step.

Vintage ladder back chairs before painting
Before
After cleaning the chairs I removed the seats so it would be easier to paint. I numbered each of the chairs and its corresponding seat to make re-assembly easier. The screws were old and difficult to unscrew, but I persevered and got them out. I knew getting them back in would be a chore, so to make the job easier I lubricated each of the screws with soft clear wax.

Apply soft clear wax to old screws.
Apply soft clear wax to old screws.


A little bit of the wax seeped out once the screws were tightened. I simply used a shop cloth to wipe away the excess.

Wipe away excess wax with a rag.
Wipe away excess wax with a rag.


I worked the chairs in an assembly line fashion. I applied the first coat of paint on each of the chairs. Next I painted the second coat. I then distressed each of the chairs, cleaned off the sanding dust, and applied wax to seal the paint. It's a fairly straight forward process, but to be honest by the third chair of each step it became laborious. Good thing I like painting furniture.

Here's a quick side-by-side shot of two of the chairs before I applied the wax and after. The wax not only seals the paint, it also deepens the color and gives it a luxurious feel. I think it's more striking in person, but hopefully the photo gives you an idea of the difference the wax makes over Chalk Paint.

Before and after applying soft clear wax.
Before and after applying soft clear wax.

Here's a close up of the paint after it was distressed and waxed.

Graphite Chalk Paint distressed and waxed.
Graphite Chalk Paint distressed and waxed.

I love the traditional look of the natural seats against the black paint.

Natural toned seats against black paint.
Natural toned seats against black paint.

There's is a bit of wear to the seats, but not enough to need replacement. I'm not after perfection, and I think a little bit of wear and tear adds to the authenticity and gives it a bit of vintage charm.

A little bit of wear and tear adds to the authenticity and vintage charm.
A little bit of wear and tear adds to the authenticity and vintage charm.

I took a few different shots of the chairs with slightly various staging ideas. I posted about the staging on my Facebook page and asked readers which shot they thought would be best for a "for sale" ad. Shot #2 with the hat was the winner, with the plain set (#1) a close second. Photo #4 was actually my personal favorite, but my vote doesn't count, so I'm using the photo with the hat in my advertisement, but if that doesn't get the job done then I will try a different photo. I'd love to hear which photo catches your eye.

Four ladder back chairs
Photo #1 - Four ladder back chairs

Four ladder back chairs staged with vintage hat.
Photo #2 - Four ladder back chairs staged with vintage hat.

Four ladder back chairs staged with yellow wreath.
Photo #3 - Four ladder back chairs staged with yellow wreath.

Photo #4 - Four ladder back chairs with one chair at angle.

Finally, here are the chairs paired with my vintage table. The black base of the table matches the chairs, and although the table top is not an exact match to the seats, the natural finishes coordinate well together.

Vintage table and ladder back chairs.
Vintage table and ladder back chairs.
I hope you enjoyed today's project, and I appreciate you stopping by. I would like to invite you to enter your email in the "subscribe" section at the top right of the screen to receive alerts of new projects that I'm working on. Or feel free to follow me on Facebook.

Supply List

Below are the supplies I used for this project. Some links are affiliate links which  means I earn a small commission if you make a purchase. It doesn't cost you extra, but it helps support the time and effort of maintaining the blog. Thank you for your support and understanding!

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